Hub Cymru Africa Innovation Award
Hub Cymru Africa Awards 2018
We’re delighted to announce that we received the Hub Cymru Africa Innovation Award last night from the First Minister at the Hub Cymru Africa Awards 2018.
The award recognised innovation in project design or implementation. We have developed a simple but effective solution to providing solar power and computer resources to schools in rural Zambia. During a number of visits over three years, we have continually refined the system.
To date we have installed solar panels in 8 schools, with 3 more to be equipped this February. First we demonstrate the set up to teachers and local community members. Then, under supervision, they themselves undertake the installation. We make sure that they understand the basics of maintenance and have the necessary tools to do this. This approach has resulted in one headteacher being able to instal solar panels we donated, without us even being in Zambia at the time!
We use the Raspberry Pi computer to deliver a vast range of offline learning resources, as this is low powered and inexpensive. The resource is called RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning). Laptops are able to access the information wirelessly in a safe environment without the dangers and distractions of the internet. Schools are not dependent on being able to access or indeed afford the internet. At present we are developing a means of accessing log files on the Raspberry Pi to enable monitoring and reporting on content accessed.
The solar set up also provides enough power for LED lights, a projector and phone charging. The use of a projector has great impact in making learning more interesting for classes (often in excess of 50 pupils). LED lights mean that schools can continue to function long after dark, making it easier for teachers to do marking and lesson preparation.
For schools that have mains power we network their computer systems to a server enabling safe sharing of files and access to the RACHEL learning resources. We place great emphasis on training of teachers so that they can use the technology with confidence.
We also encourage the wider community to use the resources as they contain a wealth of articles and videos on subjects relevant to life in a remote area.
Our solution is easily rolled out in any remote community and the benefits are considerable for a modest outlay.
We could not have done this without the help of grants and donations from our sponsors:
Hub Cymru Africa
The Waterloo Foundation
University of Wales Trinity St Davids
S & C Electric Europe